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Turn Up The Heat

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Not to be outdone by those who actually hold federal office, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, used the tragedy to push their own longstanding agenda of attacking all private transfers of firearms. (That’s an agenda that’s irrelevant to the Tucson attack, since it’s clear that the accused killer bought his gun from a big sporting goods store.)

They dressed up the proposal with provisions that would further restrict gun ownership by lowering the standard for mental illness or drug abuse needed to prohibit a person from possessing firearms—as well as the procedural protections against being considered mentally ill or a drug user. But their centerpiece is to require background checks on all firearm transfers. For years, anti-gun groups have called this the “gun show loophole”—since “loophole” typically means any law the groups don’t like. Bloomberg and MAIG would impose federal background check requirements on all transfers, at gun shows or anywhere else. Even gifts to most of your relatives or any of your lifelong friends would not be exempt.

AP Photo/Chris Carlson. Families and supporters gather at the entrance of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' office in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 9, 2011.

In typical Bloomberg fashion, the cry for imposing this new law was supported by yet another set of “sting” videos, showing undercover investigators buying guns from private sellers at gun shows. As with similar Bloomberg efforts in the past, his investigators’ actions were sharply criticized by local law enforcement officials, with Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne complaining that Bloomberg’s investigators failed to notify the Arizona State Police. “The fact that no such notification was made indicates this so-called sting is nothing less than a public relations stunt,” said Horne, who also pointed out recent sharp increases in the Big Apple’s crime rates and suggested that New York officials “have more pressing crimes to investigate than alleged violations at a gun show 2,400 miles away.”

Yet despite all their frantic activity, MAIG and other anti-gun groups failed to get the recognition they really wanted—that is, a mention in President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address. The night of the speech, White House officials began promising a consolation prize: a separate speech on gun control at a later time. Although at press time, no date or specific topics for a speech had been announced, Newsweek reports that President Obama will “make the case that America’s gun laws have been too loose for much longer than just the past few weeks.” That’s no surprise for those of us who have followed Obama’s support of extreme anti-gun initiatives since the beginning of his public career.

We’ll have our work cut out for us dealing with anti-gun proposals and propaganda over the months leading up to the 2012 elections. As always, we’re confident that we can succeed with the support of NRA’s most powerful asset: the strength, dedication and unity of our members.

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